Words you just don't want to get in an email from your editor: love the piece but

The BUT always means more work, unless it's followed by "I had to tighten it up a bit," which means the editor took some stuff out, possibly accompanied by the sound of Archie Bell and the Drells. (What kind of dance was that? How do you base a dance around stiffening?) In this case, however, it was BUT you wrote the wrong piece. I had two architecture columns due, and I wrote the one for next next week. So that means it's a six-piece week, considering everything that's due. And of course this! The thing I do for love.

Did say I cleaned the shed? Well, apres le shed, le closet. There are two closets in the basement, each with French doors, each with draperies on the other side. You'd think they lead to another room. You are disappointed to learn that they do not, but that's okay. When I first took the tour before buying the place they held wine racks, which seemed like the sort of elegant, civilized life I would lead if I lived here. We used them to store Kid Stuff, since the basement was where Daughter played now and then, and when friends came over you wanted Supplies for Projects. So there was a shelf with pastel buckets that had all the kid stuff. In the other closet, a black set of drawers that were damn useless, since they were so shallow. But lots of drawers! About ten years ago the function of the closet was set, and no one gave it any more thought because we didn't need additional storage and the space was being used.

Last week I drew up a list of rooms and spaces that needed to be addressed, ruthlessly. Let sans ruth be our motto. Having done the shed, I turned to the closet, which my wife liked: oh for once the manic phase is being productive, instead of resulting in 47 new websites. Throwing out the pastel-bucket stuff was a trip back in time - all those markers! All those fluffy plastic seasonal shapes, meant for seasonal crafts activity! It would have given me sad mubblefubbles over the passage of time and loss of innocence and all that if she'd used any of this stuff, but it was mostly there in case 15 tot-guests needed to be placated with an activity, so I pitchforked the lot into a bag. Saved the crayons and usable art supplies for church preschool. Found a half-dozen whiteboards on which my sister had glued pictures of my dad for his 70th; found a dead mouse, desiccated, flat as an envelope, in the back - he had apparently expired while chewing on a photo of my Dad in his Navy garb. Found an old poster of a dance team that hit the Fargo Theater a long, long time ago.


When I bought this back in the 80s, I had no way of knowing who they were. Now, hey presto:

Frank Veloz (1902–1981) and Yolanda Casazza (1911–1995) were a self-taught American ballroom dance team, husband and wife, who became stars in the 1930s and 1940s. They were among the highest paid dance acts during this period. They performed on stage in productions such as Hot-Cha!, which ran for 119 shows on Broadway in 1932. They also appeared in popular films such as Under the Pampas Moon (1935), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Honeymoon Lodge (1943), Brazil (1944) and The Thrill of Brazil (1946), the latter of which is credited as being of major importance to the growth in popularity of Samba in America.

Veloz and Yolanda specialized in Latin ballroom dance styles, and opened their own chain of dance studios, where many middle-class people learned the art of ballroom dancing. The studios closed down in the mid-1950s as new forms of dance became popular. Veloz and Yolanda did much to legitimize ballroom dance as a performance art and invented the "Cobra Tango", a dance which interpreted a fight between a snake and a tiger. A full-length ballet written by their son Guy Veloz, An American Tango, is based on their life story.

Emptied the space, measured the space, called up my Home Depot app, found the right shelving, and went off.

It had been raining all day, but the skies had cleared before I left. Caught a view of the storm as it lumbered out:


At Home Depot I went to aisle 11, bin 10. No shelves. The app said the store had 8. I found a clerk, who reminded me of Uncle Joe from "Petticoat Junction." Movin' kinda slow. He looked at the item on the app, and went to aisle 11.

"It's over here," he said.

"Uh - no, that's a different size, different finish, and twice the price."

"Oh." He thought. "Maybe it's up front. They moved the shelves up front."

We went Up Front.

"This what you want?"

"Uh, no. That's not it."

"What was it again?"

Oh for heaven's sake. I showed him the app again. He went to Aisle 11, bin 10. Which was empty. He stared at the vacant space, thinking, then got out his barcode reader and beeped the SKU.

"Says there's nine," he said. He looked at the empty space again for a while. "Must be up above. Have to get a lift."

So for five minutes he walked back and forth looking up at the boxes up above, and of course he didn't see the unit because it wasn't up there. At this point I asked if the other nearby store had them in a place where people could, you know, buy them, and he called up the Other Store.

"They got eleven," he said, and I thanked him and refiled my shopping cart, muttering. By the time I got to the Other Store the rain had returned, pelting rain, heavy marble-sized drops. Sauntered in with my umbrella, and was greeted by a guy who was like the Judd Hirsch of greeting you at Home Depot. He found what I wanted right away, and even measured the unit on the floor to see if the 48" width included the slight flare where the shelves sat on the poles. Hah! It's less than 48 inches! It's like 2 by 4s. They're not always 2 by 4. Word to the wise.

I loaded up the shelving units, tossed in a wine rack shelf because that's the sophisticated life I will now be living, and got everything in the Element. As I was in the parking lot I looked up, and was reminded that the airport is close, and that this is an age of wonders.


Got dinner at our favorite Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall, went home, took a nap, then put the shelves together. Realized: I had bought these before. For our old house. They went in the kitchen. We left them when we moved.

Couldn't possibly imagine how they'd fit out new house. It being so elegant and civilized, you know.

  Note how "Germany" meant "quality optics," even to kids.





As we come to the end of summer, we conclude with holiday travel-type ads. Rayco! Make sure you know where your Modern Rayco Store might be.

That's a lot of showroom for some seat covers.

Not a lot of web results for Rayco. Bought by Goodrich in 1961.


As long as you're thinking about your car, you might start to worry about its gloss:


Of course there's a blog post devoted to using it many years ago:

. . . polish – and paste waxes – would turn to a white, cake-on hardness, and would be very difficult to remove. Talk about needing elbow grease – this was the era well before electric polishers became common. The first time I used Blue Coral paste wax was on my father’s black 1965 Oldsmobile, and I coated the car’s entire body in one shot with it. It then took me literally hours and hours to remove all the wax which was now caked-on due to the hot summer sun. As they say, live and learn. And I did.

Back in the day, DuPont’s No. 7 Polish and Cleaner was immensely popular because it worked extremely well. An excellent quality product, no doubt. In fact, so memorable was the No. 7 Polish that today you can read how car owners are still praising its virtues on the AACA’s forums, with many club members calling it “the best polish ever made.”

Still around - but apparently Dupont doesn't make it anymore. Or perhaps they do.

Those letters. They said "new and modern" but now they look amateurish.

As movie tie-ins go, it's rather underwhelming. You have to get out a jeweler's loupe to read the exhortation to see "Around the World in 80 Days."

By the way, the first imdb review says:

Beautifully shot in over 100 different locations around the world, it is one of the few novels which actually benefits from big screen treatment. No longer do we have to imagine these fine exotic places in our minds, they are presented here in full cinematic and Technicolour brilliance.

The first piece of imdb trivia:

Contrary to popular belief, production reports show that most of the film was shot in Hollywood. A lot of exterior second-unit locations were used, but most scenes were shot on sound stages in Hollywood, on the back lots of over seven major studios, including: RKO-Pathe, RKO, Universal-International, Warner Bros., Columbia and 20th Century-Fox.

So which is it? Wikipedia says it went to 112 locations. Whatever. There's a quote from a critic that might confuse a modern reader:

Bosley Crowther called the film a "sprawling conglomeration of refined English comedy, giant-screen travel panoramics and slam-bang Keystone burlesque" and said Todd and the film's crew "commandeered the giant screen and stereophonic sound as though they were Olsen and Johnson turned loose in a cosmic cutting-room, with a pipe organ in one corner and all the movies ever made to toss around."

You get the reference, or you don't. Same with the name of one of the writers: S. J. Perelman.

Anyway, we were talking about razors.


And now we are done talking about razors.

In the old days people willingly posed for ads that had their name and address:



Let's meet the Kelleys! She looks a bit . . . dismayed. He's pretending to recognize the kids. Oh right those are mine; I knew they looked familiar. It's just been crazy at the office, I've been away.

Who hangs pictures of busts?

Everybody in town. This, presumably, is New York. That's millions of people.

The modern price in the neighborhood: $92,000.

That's a hell of a lot of ice cream.

The small box with the rounded edges indicates a TV tie-in: Shirley Temple's Storybook.


The opening music, indistinct and forgettable, is nevertheless familiar to parents, who at some point were used to everything starting out like this.

Finally: who's hungry?

This is meant to entice you, not drive you screaming to an actual Chinese restaurant where you thrust the ad, ripped from Life, into the hands of the bewildered proprietor and make frantic gestures and gagging sounds until he understands and says, in his simple English, that he makes nothing like this. Nothing like this at all.

You can blame Minnesota for this, I suppose.

Its creator, Jeno Palucci - yes, he did the pizza rolls as well - was born in Aurora, Minnesota.

Jeno sold the company for $63 mil in 1966: what a deal. Meet the man! He comes on at 20:25 or so.


Well, that was one heck of an entry. Did you make it all the way to the bottom? Thanks! And there's more! See you around.



blog comments powered by Disqus